Thursday, May 14, 2020

Gulfstream Park Racing Journal May 14,2020

R1

El Scorcho
( EMPIRE MAKER - PALOOZA, BY HENNESSY )

El Scorcho continues to drop as she makes his 3rd lifetime start, this time diving from 50k to 12k in somewhat of a panic move. The bloom is clearly off the rose for this former 140k two year old purchase. Its time for her connections to bail out on her and take their losses. Will it workÉ Will it be enough
Her first two starts yielded back to back 9th finishes, but at least this time she comes back within a month, while she had more than 4 months between start 1 and 2. Otherwise, she returns at the same distance and still on the turf. That suggests the trainer thinks he has her figured out right, just that she is cheap and the only answer is to seek out weaker competition in the hope that helps her.
She was a FTS on Dec 8th in a MSW, saddled with post 11, broke okay but then settled mid pack to back pack, travelled along even and went the rest of the way that way. She could be given a mild pass in that she was green and had little chance to start forwardly. She was entered back January 19th under the exact same conditions, with post 3, but didnt run.
Her second start, on April 16th in a maiden claimer 50k, with an apprentice jockey aboard gave her a starting spot in post 8 for the class drop. As with her first start, she took no significant money at any point.
In both starts, in the post parade, she showed little interest in being out there and was indifferent at best. She is likely to be a pack runner with any kind of decent horse until she bottoms out at the B tracks at a lower level where she can run that way and simply keep going like that while others fade on lack of ability.
Last time she broke in the air, stumbled a shade, but then was right into stride and in the same position she was in her debut start. She was wide on turn, given every chance to make a run, but stayed within the back pack and closed with them while not passing.
She gets a solid post here, but gives every indication she wont make front and is destined to run with the pack again, although she runs on well enough that the drop should elicit some kind of small slice.
She takes a major class drop here, but to be honest, she never looked like she was even close to those, so they are just cutting to the chase and avoiding two minor drops and going right to the potential best spot. These are tough times. You cant afford to run where you think the horse is iffy. Unfortunately for her, while many are not taking as drastic a class drop here, they are going down as well. She will have to improve her starting and determination variables to beat them all. I dont see that happening.
I would go against her as chalk. That is assuming she goes off lukewarm chalk, which is likely.


R2

7 first time starting 2yo. They will have to be seen, otherwise, a pass race unless something takes insane win money. We will see.

R3

Bahamian Prince

( BAHAMIAN SQUALL - SUPER TROOPER, BY POSSE )

Bahamian Prince is a 3yo with 2 life wins from 7 starts, and 3 top 3 finishes in his last 3 starts as he slices his tag in half and faces straight claimers. He won a straight 35k claimer at this distance and surface 4 back, and has maintained good form. On paper, he looks very tough to go against.
Last time, for 50k optional, he ran a solid 2nd best to one who had beat him before. He has solid leaving speed, but not as good as the best in that type of race. He will stalk otherwise and tries hard start to finish, so any variable now in his favor, for example, avoiding that one and dropping in class, certainly enhances his win chances. Post 9 might hurt him again, so he is no cinch, but as tactical and versatile as he is, he is tough to beat. I wouldnèt however, take less than 7-5, which he might bring.

R4

Tiger's Back

( GHOSTZAPPER - NATIVE STRIKE, BY SMART STRIKE

Tiger's Back makes his 4th lifetime start for Dale Romans, his second in a claimer as he goes lower from 25 to 16k searching for the right level. He switches back to the dirt and cuts back to 6f, which is how he started out when he made his debut in MSW. He has been consistent about racing once every 4 weeks, but this time comes back in about 2 weeks.
He was a 370k yearling, but that high hopes ship has now sailed and at best he looks like a mid range claimer. First he has to win a race to find his level.
They tried turf and longer last time. He made a mediocre post parade appearance, as he seems disinterested, and showed the same in the gate, then getting off slowly as if he wasnt paying full attention. From there, near the back, he ran even, with little vigor, then was up for 5th money, nowhere near the top 3, and not gaining on the 4th horse. He shows little in that effort to think a minor class drop gives him winning form. He did the exact same in his first lifetime start, and in both races, was on the right line early in the race. Not sure how low he has to go, but this doesnt look low enough.

R5

Stone Hands

( TAPIZAR - HONEYCOMB GUS, BY IS IT TRUE )

Stone Hands wins his share and is a somewhat consistent claimer type. He continues to go lower, as he has become the type that picks up slices, and hasnt won a race in 2 years, when he was a borderline stakes horse and could take down legit allowance horses. That day seems to have passed.
He broke sharply last time, moved up to engage the loose leader, stalked and pushed him, but was all done before the 3/4 and basically eased before the last turn and cantered under the wire. On the class drop this time, he cuts back a shade, but considering his record the last year and how he finished last time, he doesnt have the form to fend off stiff challenges, which he is likely to get here.
He was on the right line bad last time, and the farther he went the worse he got. His previous start, at only 6.5f, he blasted out, gained the pocket, pulled on that one but was swallowed up mid stretch and ended 4th, on the right line horrible towards the tote board. I cant see him getting a mile while blasting out with any kind of challenge.

R6

Fresco

( FREUD - LADY RENAISSANCE, BY SMART STRIKE )

Fresco , a 2nd time starting homebred, has missed almost 4 months but comes back at the safe distance and surface after finishing 3rd in her debut. In that race, she made a very nice pre race and post parade appearance, was fractious and reluctant to load but did go in after a few tries, She was eager to get near the lead, but a few others were faster, then settled and followed in, trapped at times, with little place to move until she angled out on the last turn and took her shot. The winner beat her to the punch, but she almost ran down the leader who finished 2nd. A solid first effort.
She has worked steady and evenly in the interim, and looks very tough as she has experience to go with her likely stakes caliber talent.

R7

Maserati Man

( BIONDETTI - CLASSY CITY LADY, BY CARSON CITY )

Maserati Man, the lukewarm 3-1 ML choice, broke his maiden 3 back in a claimer in his 3rd lifetime start, and has picked up on the board finishes in his next two at this level or thereabouts. His speed figure shot up considerably in that last start, when he finished 2nd. That was 2nd off a layoff and he just seems the type that improves as he races on. He raced for a 50k tag then, but is in on the optional 32k here.
In that April 4th race, he ran out well, but def was veering right coming out, then was wide most of the way, 4 high on the turn, as he and the winner pounced on two who went at each other and were fried. He looked to have the winner beat mid stretch, but hung enough near the line to let him come back on. He was trying to switch onto his right lead, and did, but switched back and that is when he faded a shade. Hard to fault his effort, but the need to go to the right lead and then not keep on with that is troubling for a horse with a sire like Biondetti. That was also something he did on his return start just before that. He tries hard and is athletic and fast enough, but relying on that sort of action catches up with most, and this will be his 3rd start back and facing tough relative competition.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Gulfstream, March 20, 2019....notes and possible plays

Race 1

Lucky Long looks to win 3 straight, and faces some tougher foes than she has met in those, in spite of seemingly dropping in class, when you strictly look at the amount of the purse.
She has been a steady, win in the right spot type her entire career, now 5 for 18, winning every 5 or 6 starts until she doubled up at this meet. In those 2 starts, she raced well and was full value, but also was the benefactor of very good trips. Last time, stalking a longshot in a loose pocket, angling out early and then just sitting outside that one, making the lead and hanging tough, while running a fast quarter around the turn to get some daylight. The start before that she stayed in all the way and shot up the rail when that opened, and again opened up and held firm. She is a trip horse, but takes advantage when she gets it. 
Being by Lookin at Lucky, many of his get seem to need that kind of trip and dont like roughing it, nor working hard in back to back starts.
Her last race has been her best speed figure to date, and without the soft trip and a duplicate of that type of speed, she is beatable, yet legit. 
Its tough to win 3 in a row period, let alone needing a soft trip and meeting some newer, tough customers who arent likely to let her fall into a comfortable lead without working for it. She is a bigger ML, but I expect her to be the chalk, lukewarm possibly, and I will play others.

Race 2

Stronger Kat is another going for 3 in a row, and she daylighted a suspect bunch last time with a final turn move that steamrolled anything that had any ideas of getting their picture taken.
She was 3-5 the best in both of those starts and left no doubt that was an accurate call by the bettors. 
This will be start 6 for the filly by a sire that never raced, and while she didn't do much at all in her first 3, she switched turf to dirt in start 4 and shortened up to todays distance, and repeated that exact formula last time as she moved from maiden claimer to claimer and now doubles her tag for this bunch.
She will meet this test with new connections, being claimed last time, but keeps the top jockey at the current meet. Her main foe comes out of a maiden claimer for this tag, and was a 4-5 winner in a short field. That one has woken up since Navarro claimed her and is on a roll. Speed wise they are virtually even. Others look legit. She is another I see getting beat if pressured, which is likely. 

Race 3

Seems to be a wide open affair with many having a decent shot if the trip goes their way. Pass for me.
Your best chance at getting value in this race appears to me to watch the post parade and the board and see if anything jumps out. 

Race 4

Gardencity Gambler is the obvious chalk here, shipping in from Maryland off a long layoff, daylighting a terrible bunch in a maiden claimer, but running basically the same speed that got her slaughtered back in Maryland. As such, she halves her price tag off the maiden win, and meets the bottom of the barrel here. She is beatable if you can find a live one from the balance.
Glutonosa upped her tag slightly last time off a 2nd place finish the time before, and was 4th. She shortens up a shade here on the move back down. She is dangerous enough with this mediocre to horrid bunch. If she happens to bring a price on the hammering of the expected chalk, she is value. Assuming she doesnt parade terrible. She broke her maiden at this distance in a maiden claimer, so she is level in that respect with the expected fave, and has a bit more experience than that one with winners, which can be an advantage. 
She comes back on 2 weeks this time, with a poor speed figure and last time she did that she was 3rd. She has to be seen in terms of what she might bring. 
I could see a long shot to a bomb in this race if something jumps out. Unrivaled Soul comes back on 7 days, after running horrible last week, but she seems to alternate good and bad efforts, and the one before was good, relative to this class. She is possible, but has to bring odds, I'd say 7-1 or higher.
Lisa Mila ran no good last time but managed 3rd, a month and a bit ago, beaten by Glutonasa for 2nd. She gets a monster trainer change to Barboza, but stays at the same level. Same owner as previous. Another that has to be seen.

Race 5

Violent Times kept good company in her brief career in New York, but returns here off a long layoff for the same connections, while finishing 2nd in that last start. She broke her maiden in a MSW in late 2017, her only start that year, followed 2 months later by a stakes try at this track just over a year ago where she was 8th. She tried another stakes race at Penn on the dirt, where she was 7th, and then 2nd twice on a shorter interval in New York, then shut down to end her 3yo year. She returns here with an outside post. Her sire only made 4 lifetime starts and many of his are seemingly brittle and lightly raced. She looks like a bad favorite to me. The long layoff off good form, combined with the long gaps in her career, and her sires short career would cause me concern if I were to back her at a short price first off that layoff. Behind her it could any of all of the rest, so its a good race to go deep and take a complete shot against Violent Times.

Race 6

Morocco is 1 for 20 lifetime, that win in 2017, and generally looks dangerous on the turn but hangs late, hence his record. I dont see the class drop being enough to get him over the top, and his speed numbers have been gradually declining. Mott is a great trainer, but he cant seem to get this one to go. 

Florida Cotton has one win and is now a 5yo, yet he has hit the board in 10 of 13 tries. He is Morocco with a shade more grit, but while he is gritty, he is a one speed kind who also drives hard off his front end and has suspect confirmation up front. He missed almost 7 months coming into his last start, a decent 2nd, but now comes back in 8 weeks, and returns in a claimer at the same level after being taken by Falcone,  off many 2nd place finishes. He has red flags all over and while he does have good speed numbers, he is not difficult to go against. He cuts back a furlong, but seems to run the same at any distance....good enough to earn, not good enough to win.
That leaves the rest, any of which will be a price and are viable if you get past the top 2.

Race 7

Sonoma Storm takes the price plunge from 35 to 16, after racing just 12 days ago. In that race, she ran out for a solid pocket position, stayed in and followed a bomb longshot who wired them, while they werent running that fast, she dropped the bit mid turn and backed away. I dont see the class drop as good enough. The distance appears to be her issue, and she runs the same distance as last time. Completely go against her.

Uncommon Factor has run 3 times at the meet and has yet to make the top 5, her speed numbers worse each time. She goes back to turf here, and gets blinkers and a slight price tag drop as Walder, a top trainer, seaches for an answer. That answer could be a trip to West Virginia in a 5k maiden claimer, but we shall see. She will have to do better, and her starting issues also dont help her cause. She did finish 2nd once in the summer, so she has some hope I guess.

Dillons Kitty is a one speed type, makes her 3rd lifetime start, back on grass again, goes longer, and shows some hope as she looks to find the right distance, surface and class. If the top 2 fail and they look like they can, she is a solid price option. She is another slicing her claiming tag. 

Rucia Mora has had some bad posts, and now gets a more favorable one, cuts back to the distance she started her career at, and gets a longshot jockey who is heady with this type. Another good price option with signs that make her viable.

Enoughandthensome keeps fiddling with the distance, had a troubled trip 2 back, a trainer who seems to right the ship when it looks like its going to the bottom of the ocean, takes a moderate class drop and goes 3rd start on the turf after only racing on dirt before that. Another with a shot at a price and with a jockey who can bring in a bomb on this kind.

Any of the others if they were to parade good and take unusual betting patterns are viable under those circumstances.

Race 8

Is a motley crew I will pass on. Hate them all equally.

Race 9

Wildwood Dancer is the obvious heavy chalk as he goes for 4 straight. He is a 9 time winner, 24 of 34 itm, and he comes to run every time. He is excitable and acts up going into and in the gate, and that will come back to bite him one of these times. Especially if he wants the lead and one of the longshots wants to hook him and take them both down the drain. This is a reasonably salty bunch and he is likely to get picked off by one or two of them in deep stretch.

Star Juancho, or Dupree, the stablemate of the chalk, look like the most likely suspects, but others can also trip out. If you go against the chalk, go fairly deep as this could be a shit show type of race. There are a lot of crafty jockeys in this race who know how to work the field and make a late move to get the money in this type of scenario.

Race 10

Wide open bunch in a big field. Post parade and odds board will give more clues and nobody is out of the mix in what could be a big price finale. Until they all are seen, its a fools game to sort this bunch on paper.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

There's always a But: I don't make New Years Resolutions, but.....

When Dave Schwartz first interviewed me for his podcast, he asked me what he asks all his interview subjects. Are you a winning player? 
I answered yes, but with a caveat. 
Yes, overall, I am a winning player, and I laid out the reasons I think that is the case in the rest of the podcast, and in the 2nd one we did. But, the caveat was and still is, that I only win as long as I do the things I know I should do and that work. As soon as I deviate from that, I begin to lose. In many ways, that is different from many or the average player out there. They do what they think works, but it just doesn't. For me, what works works and all I really have to do is do those things and continue to generate newer and better ways to stay ahead of the pack, and then add those things and do them in addition to what already works. 
But like most people, and horseplayers, I have weaknesses. My worst one is that sometimes I think I can get away with not doing what I do---and do best, and just make bets because they look good at a glance. What I do best is watch replays, study horses for weaknesses and fatal flaws, assess odds to determine value, gather data and figure out probabilities. When I do all those things, overall, I win a lot more than I lose. So, why do I make the "stupid bets" the "bets I want to take back" the "bets I regret immediately and after the fact". 
Why do I do that?
Like many, I can be impulsive and lack some level of discipline. Over time, I've figured out that it boils down to just those two things. In every instance, I let up, fell back into the old bad habits that forced me to become a better player in the first place, and thought I could just "get away with it"....which I know, and you know, and we all know, you can't. It just doesn't work that way.
As I've transitioned into playing and watching only Thoroughbreds, which is completely a new thing for me (I will get into why that is in another blog down the road) I've been very mindful that its even more important not to make impulsive or badly disciplined bets that I know better than to make. So, since its been about 2 months now, and I've played slowly, carefully, and sparingly, and in relatively small amounts for what I normally do and will again, I was progressing well until a day about 3 weeks ago. 

Note that under the blue line, its just story to illustrate my main points in this blog, but you don't have to read that if you aren't interested in the story. You can skip over that part if you wish.
---------------------------------------------------------

It was a Tuesday. That much I remember. I had been doing well, getting almost all of them right, but with small 2 dollar bets, which is how I play when I'm "testing" something new. I know you need to play with real money even in the testing phase, to keep it real, but I don't want to lose too much in the process of sharpening up what I think I've learned and/or finding holes that I know will be there before I move back up to much bigger sums. Tuesday is a day that I wouldn't play much or at all with the T breds, as the tracks I follow....Gulfstream, Laurel, NYRA,  and Charlestown don't run that day. I think Mountaineer might have been running that night and I will play that track occasionally, I don't recall, but during the day, on Monday and Tuesdays, I use those days as prep for the days towards the weekend when all those tracks run at the same time. That is just too much work and prep to do all at once, so I spread the work out for those on the off days that are Monday and Tuesday for me, and partly on Wednesday, as there is no Laurel or Aqueduct on those days. 
On this afternoon, I was left with playing PARX and Mahoning Valley if I wanted to do more testing. I did. I didn't end up making any Mahoning bets, so it came down to PARX, which I really don't like playing for various reasons that I might touch on with another blog. Mainly, the morning line (ML) there is horrendous, the purses are grossly overinflated, and the cheating among trainers is over the top, even for an industry that has some of that at every track. In that respect though, PARX is the Al Capone of tracks compared to most which are the low level, street punk mafia types. But, I still wanted to test and make some plays, so PARX it was. 
I was out doing some errands, so I missed race 1. Race 2 was a small field which became much smaller. It started out as 7, then there were two scratches, who were 2 of the lower priced ML horses. That left 5 of them, of which 2 looked to have zero chance. That left 3 to choose from. I didn't like Miss Al Dila at all, who was the 2nd ML choice. She went off at a clear 3rd choice but was no good as I expected in the race. 
I watched the replay of the heavy favorite, Sheplaysthefield, who was dropping from NYRA into a soft spot at PARX, and she had okay form, although I didn't like how she ran and finished in her last start, which was now 10 weeks ago. Her trainer, Chris Englehart, a very high percentage guy, likes to use this angle, so, I expect that he will do it and I am mindful he can make it work at times. Still, I didn't like how she raced the time before, so, I would need odds to play her. She was likely to go off even money, which was her ML anyway, but early on, she was in the 1-5 range, and only drifted up towards the end of the cycle. The only other horse that looked viable to me was Queen Fantabulous, and in reality, she was the correct play if there was one in this race. She was 6-1 ML, but with one of the scratches being a lower ML than her, and the 2nd ML being a bad rating, I knew she was likely going to be in the 5-2 or 3-1 range. She had reasonable form and a legit shot, although the favorite clearly outclassed her on the program with recent efforts. I had these two horses to choose from if I was going to make the win bet. The rest didn't seem viable or playable. 
My normal discipline tells me to layoff a race like this. I don't like playing short priced faves who have iffy variables, and I don't play my 2nd choice unless I get my value price. Queen Fantabulous was in the 2-1 range, and that was too low. So, the right thing to do, was to make no play. The wrong thing to do, which is what I did, was bet the fave to win. She drifted up to even money, and that was okay value. I played her. As expected, from the get go, Sheplaysthefield ran poorly, was never involved or contentious, and even missed the board. On top of that, even money became 1-2 at the bell, and she was horrendous value. Queen Fantabulous won easy, and paid $6.70.
Clearly, a bad discipline play on my part, even though I had done my homework and wasn't impulsive. 
Next. 
Race 3 was a field of 8, but scratched down to 6, with an entry that made it 5 betting interests. Maiden claiming 2yo fillies, the toughest of the toughest to handicap as a rule. Especially at PARX. Nevertheless, I did the work, to see what shakes out. The longest shot I watched run at Belmont. My comment on her was..."never had any run" and I didn't see a drop to PARX as going to make any difference. Even at Charlestown, she might be 99-1. Nuff said. Toss. 
One of the scratches was the ML even money fave. So, the rest that are left were actually much longer shots relative to the entry when you remove the scratched fave. I looked at two others, and they looked, at best, to be hoping to beat half the entry for 3rd money. At best. That left the 6, Family Fortune, who had okay form on paper, but looked very suspect running her last race and in the post parade. I could see her being last, which she ended up close to being. 
That left the entry. Neither were spectacular, or even impressive, but they both had legit excuses and looked okay. I could see them running 1-2, but if not, 1-3 and one of them was going to pull through. However, the win price was 1-5, and could have ended up 1-9. No thanks for me on that front. At PARX, even in a 6 horse field with an entry, they will leave up show betting. The bridgejumpers jumped in, as you would expect, even though some of them got burned in the previous race, as I mentioned above when Sheplaysthefield missed the ticket. As they left the gate, the entry had 80 percent of the show pool, you got 2 for the price of one, they had a high percentage trainer and solid jockeys, and both had better form than the entire balance of the mediocre field. So, I wanted to get my $2 back with this bet, and I played $50 to show on the entry. I think it was a valid bet in terms of weighting with my $2 bets otherwise. 
The entry ran 1-3, with the winner an eased up 3 length winner, and the 3rd place horse 22 lengths in front of the 4th horse. It was never in doubt. It was about as good a percentage play as you can find. I don't play on the bridgejumper side often, but there are times when its a good play, and this was one of those. 
Before I move to the last example of that day, lets look at what I've done. I made a bad discipline play on Race 2, and lost $2. I made a very good, high percentage, well researched and thought out play in Race 3, and made $2.50. An overall return of 12 percent profit on the two bets. But, it should have a net profit of $2.50 and not .50, because I hurt myself by making a bad discipline bet in Race 2. That is the valuable part of all of it. Not the money. The lesson. Don't hurt yourself. There are enough ways to lose on your own without doing that. 
I had a few things to do, so I skipped races 4 and 5, as they didn't look like races where I wanted to make a call at this point in my development. The night before, I had looked over the entire PARX card, at a quick glance of each race, which is always what I do when I prep, in terms of thinking of where I want to end up putting my energy. I noticed race 6 right away, as it seemed like a horseman's freebie. For those who don't know what that is, for whatever reason, they sometimes write races where a very successful and dominant horse can actually drop severely in class without going in for a claiming tag, and take a stroll around the track for 1st money. On paper, this looked like a race like that. The horse in question is called Ruby Bleu, a 3yo gelding who had just won a 47k purse at PARX 7 days earlier, and had won today's condition, a 32k starter allowance about a month before. 
He also was a very high percentage winner, and top 3 finisher. On paper, he looked bulletproof with this bunch. However, paper doesn't win races, horses who can reproduce their form...and thus, performance, win races. I thought originally he would be 1-9 when I breezed over the race the night before, and thus, I didn't even bother to handicap the race, or even watch Ruby Bleu's replays. That would come back to bite me, as when I came back inside and the race was 0 mtp, he was 3-5 instead of 1-9, and looked like a good play. But how would I really know that, unless I verified that the horse on the program was the horse that was running this day? I wouldn't. I didn't watch him in the walking ring, or post parade, or even race last time or the time before. He could be a 3 legged cripple, or very sore, or tired, or a bad actor. As it turns out, he never ran a step, and was running in horrible the entire way, and was well up the track. On the impulse of seeing his price and thinking he was good value, I made a quick decision to bet him in spite of not doing the work, doing what I need to do to win, as I mentioned to Dave in the podcast. So, my small profit on the first 2 bets was now a loss. 
If I had a do over, I skip the first bet, make the second one, and then do my homework and either skip the 3rd one or play something else that was of value in that race. I lost because I didn't do what I was supposed to do to win. 
----------------------------------------------------

Its now over 3 weeks later. I don't make New Years Resolutions, but I am making one this year. 
No impulsive or bad discipline bets of any kind. 
How do I plan to live up to that resolution?
By being resolute, and by having a simple 5 second strategy of a few questions I ask myself before I confirm any bet I make. Those are:

"Is this a stupid bet" 
"If I make this bet, will I want to take it back after the fact" 
"will I regret this bet, win or lose".  
"will I regret not making this bet, win or lose".   
"have I done the work I need to do to make this bet with confidence"
"have I used my skill set to the best of my ability to determine value"

These are questions you should ask yourself every time you make a bet if you are a serious player with the intention of winning, not just playing. 
A resolution should be something where you can control the outcome. I can fully control whether or not I make disciplined and impulsive bets.
The thing about resolutions is that you need to be resolute. Or don't make them. Or make them but know you will fail because you really aren't resolute.
Resolutions aren't wishes. They are promises you make to yourself based on realistic goals and determined behaviors you deem necessary for you to succeed at whatever you choose to try and succeed at. 
Will I slip up once or twice? Maybe. Once or twice over an entire year when I make 10,000 bets is okay, as they are not going to effect my overall results in any way. But slipping up on say 1 out of 5 bets on average is the difference between profit and loss. I don't aim to lose, so, I can't slip up at the rate I have been over the years. That is one of the things I figured out when I realized why I used to lose when I should have been winning.
I will have that voice in my head, over my shoulder, that should be there, to guide me and mentor me. If it's there, I will tow the line and stick to the resolution. 
I'm not big on having regrets. As a rule, regret is a negative thing to have, and its backward looking. 
Regret is usually a bad thing, especially if its a regret from a past mistake. But, regret can be a good thing if you use it as a guide towards your future, and what hasn't happened yet. Like a resolution, you can control your intentions to avoid future regret. As a motivator and guide to think about your current actions in terms how you will likely view them after the fact, win or lose. 
To be a winning player, you have to have your personal variables in line. Even the smartest, experienced and talented players are very capable of shooting themselves in the head with bad bets that they regret making because they weren't resolute in doing what they do best. I am one of those. I hope at years end to say I was one of those. If so, I can possibly move on to a new resolution, like solving world peace. We shall see.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Six Degrees of Cam Fella

The second time I ever went to the horse races was the night Cam Fella won the Canadian Pacing Derby at Greenwood in the middle of his long streak to end his career. Even then, I could tell how big a deal he was. That night I also remember as a night I picked 6 winners out of 9 races, hit 3 exactors cold, and hit the last race triactor for 200 bucks, which was like a million dollars to me at that point. That was probably the night I got hooked on the game. I also didn't bet Cam's race, as even then, I knew betting on 1-5 shots, or whatever he was, to win, was a way to lose money. But I enjoyed watching greatness and no doubt Cam Fella was great. I'd say in the top 5 harness horses of all time. Also my first experience with Perfect Out, who was a great horse on that circuit for many years to come. He was just unfortunate to have to play 2nd fiddle to Cam that year. Nobody was beating Cam once he started to run the table. On this night, Perfect Out put in steps in the stretch, something I don't recall him doing at all when I watched him. He might have been 2nd otherwise. Nobody was getting by Cam Fella either way. He refused to give up the lead when he had it. If he did, he wanted it back.


About 2 or 3 years later I was in University and worked part time to pay my tuition. One of those jobs was working weekends for a friend of my mothers husband, being a helper for his flea market stand, which was the best and most profitable one at any flea market we went to. They lived down the street from me and I'd walk over, pick up his truck, drive it to the market, unload all the contents, including the tables and things like that, all the boxes, sell the stuff all day, and load the entire thing back into the truck and take it home. All for 40 bucks, which seems strange now but that was enough over an entire winter to pay for my tuition. The one that we did that year was the Stouffville Flea Market, the one in the video below.



As far as I know, that is where the Cam Fella's connections met. Faulkner owned and ran the market, Clements was the main customer, operating the National Sports there, which was massive and not really like anything you'd see at a flea market. Side note, Rocco Auciello, Carmen's dad, who is and was also a horsemen, even back then, ran the kitchen and made my lunch when I got it. He made great fries.
The next summer, the owner of the stand, whose name was Mike Kagan, asked me if I wanted to work all summer, and do all the markets he went to. That was 6 days a week, a lot of travelling, and a lot of work. But I said yes and did it. I made enough that summer to put money in the bank for after university. The money was very good. We went all over, from as far west as Aylmer, Ontario, well north of Orangeville, Wasaga Beach, Pickering, and a whole bunch of other places I don't remember. Plus the 2 weekend days at Stouffville, which was the biggest flea market I've ever seen, and also an outdoor one in the summer. In the summer, that market paid 100 bucks a day, not 40. For every trip, we got free dinner paid for by Mike, which was usually Harvey's or Swiss Chalet. I was a Harvey's junkie, as I loved their burgers and fries, and Swiss Chalet had the best fries of any place going. I don't and have never eaten chicken, so when we went to Swiss Chalet, I just had 3 orders of fries. You can sense a trend in how I ate back then. Fries were my staple.
When you worked the summer, you needed help, as it was busier and the road trips required two people to do it. So, I was hooked up with Chris, who had worked for Mike a long time. Chris was a big, strong, very nice guy who worked his butt off and knew how to sell. He could charm girls into buying 2 jeans instead of one, while at the same time convincing an old Italian guy to pay almost full price for work boots, when they could probably go to the mall and get them for the same price. Most people at a flea market want the deal, and expect it. Chris could get them to pay almost full price. He had that charisma.
Chris and I started to become friends, as he also just lived down the street from me. We traveled to all the markets together. Chris had no idea what a horse race was like and had never been. He was curious, as I was always reading the program when he drove the truck, which he mostly did. One day, I took him after the Saturday gig. On the program, he noticed the name Cam Fella, as he had foals by then and it was a Saturday night stakes card, loaded with Cam Fella's. Camtastic might have been one of those that year.
On the way home, he mentioned that he knew the name Cam Fella because of the owners of the market, who he was tight with. I didn't know them at all, and in fact, to this day, have never met them. Side note, my friend Les went to school with Dan Clements, the son of Norm, and who most would know as a successful driver for a long time, and some time trainer at stages. I remember one night he won at 43-1 from the 8 hole with a horse called Disreali Hanover, a son of Cam Fella.
I didn't know them, but Chris had their trust. One day, when we were finished loading the truck back up, he took me to the office of one of them, I think Faulkner, and it was like a shrine, like a museum dedicated to Cam Fella. You had to see it to believe it. I never forgot that. I got that same feeling many years later when I went to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and they had a special room upstairs dedicated to Bruce Springsteen. The immensity and volume of stuff and memories can really grab you when you view it that way. To me, Cam Fella was to racing what Bruce Springsteen was to Rock N Roll, an unlikely hero from humble roots who connected with the common man while still showing true greatness.


Fast forward to when Presidential Ball first came out for his first baby race. He was a son of Cam Fella. To see him on the track....I was along the rail at Greenwood, which was very up close by track standards, you could just tell how classy and good he was. He came a very fast last quarter and was clearly the best at that point. A year later he won the North America Cup. His trainer, Bill Robinson, had a power stable of two year olds that year, including Presidential Ball, Lotta Soul and Riyadh. There were others as well. He dominated every race around there. Presidential Ball was always my favorite Cam Fella foal of the high end ones. In the Cup, he was parked every step, 3 wide for almost the entire last turn, and set a Stakes and track record to win, moving down Life Sign, who was a very tough horse to beat. Presidential Ball was just a very tough customer, much like his father.
A year before that, on a nothing Friday night in the spring, I remember my first encounter with Precious Bunny. He was an okay New York Sires horse, but didn't look like a champion that many Cam Fella's were. Until this night, when, off a qualifier, he won by at least half the stretch, in a speed we had not seen before. I was at the Greenwood intertrack that night, and the race was at Mohawk. Most that were at the intertrack were hard core players who didn't care any more about a stakes horse than a 10 claimer, as long as they cashed on the winner. That night, there was just a complete silence watching that race, then a buzz for about a week or two. People just talked about what Precious Bunny did that night like they had seen Jesus on the track. We all know he backed that up with a summer of big time wins until the Provincial Cup.


About 6 or 7 years after that, when I was owning a few, my trainer, who was also a friend of mine, phoned me at work and told me he didn't have time to train mine anymore, as he was scaling back. I had owned some decent OJC horses before, but at this point, I owned strictly mediocre B track horses. Four to be exact. I also had a very demanding day job, and a new wife. I tried to find someone to train them, but nobody that I thought was right for what I wanted, so, since I'd always wanted to try training, I thought I would do it...along with my day job. That is and was as crazy as it sounds when you just read it.
At work, one of my coworkers knew a guy who had a farm in Mississauga, which was about a 30 minute drive in the mornings from my house, and about an hour from work after work. Some days I did both, other days I did one or the other. On the weekends, I did full days, every week for a couple of years. When the horse had to race, I sent them with another guy that I was stabled with unless it was a Saturday night or Sunday.
One of the horses was a cheap claimer, Edward Seelster, and he was easy. He was a robot in terms of doing what he was told, he was sound, good gaited and had zero problems. But he was only a cheque getter, so, eventually he got claimed when I dropped him a level to get a win, which he didn't even do that night. A second one was a mare I bought that I always liked and I thought would be a good broodmare when done racing. Her name was Almahurst Loraine. Turns out she was sterile and could never get in foal. When she came to me to train, she had just bowed a tendon and been turned out 6 or 8 months. Going against the advice of everyone I met, I fixed her up, got her trained down in about 6 weeks, and she won tons of races and money for me.
A third horse I sold because I found I could only handle 3 and do it right. She was a nice filly named Winwood Dancer and did okay for others. My trainer had bred her, owned her mother, and when she didn't sell for enough as a yearling, he kept her and I bought half. She was a nice horse and was capable enough to get 2nd in a Sire Stake at 2 which went for very good money. She seemed to go backward mostly from there.


The last one was a green horse, a very green horse named Eddie Lebec. He was by a son of Cam Fella, Carlsbad Cam. I remembered Carlsbad Cam as a horse that went very tough trips, but still won by just as much as he needed to, just like Cam Fella. In the video above, he got a great trip and won, and once he made the lead late, he wasn't letting anybody by. In the race I remember him most for, his win in the elim of the NA Cup, he was first over a long way but just kept going and drew off late. That video is out there somewhere, but I couldn't find it. That memory always stuck with me.
I bought Eddie Lebec for 1600 bucks at a Mixed Sale when he was 2 years old and did not make it that year. Side note, the guys at the sale I spoke to that year, who I didn't know at all, I ended up stabled with about 4 or 5 years later. They told me he had trained in 2:11 before they stopped with him. He had clean legs, but he had suspect ankles even then. He was not likely to last. He was an expensive yearling to some extent, I'm going to say about 20 to 30k. He looked the part. Big, dark, had some of the attitude that Cam Fella was known for, and I remembered his half brother, Skippy Handleman, as a durable and solid mid level horse for a few years. My trainer was also partners with me on that horse, but he could not get him to go. He asked me what I wanted to do with him. He suggested sending him to the Mennonites. We were also partners on Winwood Dancer that I didn't end up with and sold back to him. I took Eddie, who we called Sam, and he took the filly and sold her off to another guy he was stabled with. By the time I started training Eddie Lebec, it didn't look like such a smart exchange.
Eddie Lebec was a major challenge for a young inexperienced trainer like me. He had a mixey gait, in that he couldn't trot a step, but he was a jerky pacer slow, and would put in an extra step at any speed, unless you put the hopples on him. I didn't have a lot of time when I got to the barn from work, or in the mornings. So, because I was fighting against the daylight disappearing, I didn't use the hopples with him except on the weekends. That probably ended up being a good thing, as he gradually learned to pace better and find his balance. When I finally got him going and he was ready to train fast, I put the hopples on him and he was smooth as silk with them. He was really only mixey gaited because of his weak ankles, which puffed up when I started to race him later on. Eventually, that is what cost him a longer career.
For a short time, I was just too busy at work, so, I sent the two, Edward Seelster and Eddie Lebec, that were racing or ready to to my former trainer for a month. I kept the mare with the bow and worked on her daily to get her to where she was going to need to be. She was a lot of work for a horse that never really jogged or trained. Just making her sound and getting her fit without that was a big job. But, that could be done in the dark, so she was more suitable to the schedule I had at the time.
One day, my other two were going to train and I took off work early to go out to see them and sit behind one while the trainer sat behind the other. He took Eddie Lebec, I took the Edward Seelster, who was racing steady every week in about 1.58 or 2.00. Eddie Lebec liked to lead, and he didn't like to be passed. At that point, he had never been faster than 2.20 since I'd had him, but, on that day, when I came up beside him with the racehorse, he would not let him by and could not get by. He had that Cam Fella toughness. A week later, work lightened up and they came back to the barn I was stabled at.
About a month later, Eddie Lebec was ready to qualify, which he did, and was ready to race the next week. The trainer, also my long time friend, was there at the rail with me as we watched the race. He went right to the front and wired them. Only ahead by a small amount the entire way, but never letting any horse by him. He won by probably a neck. Just like Cam did most of the time. The trainer said to me.....I can't believe that is the same horse. Eddie Lebec went on to win 3 of his first 6 races, and I even took a shot with him at Woodbine, but he just couldn't go fast enough without his ankles starting to flare up so I aborted that ambition.
I had him for a couple of more years, but by then I had other better ones than him, plus Almahurst Loraine who was a winning machine, so I decided to drop him into the cheapest claimer they had and lose him, which I did. That night, even though he wasn't sound and had a bad post, he laid parked first up the entire way, and went even with the leader every step, until the last step, when he went by him. He was like that. I never forgot how tough he was. He also bit me once in the crossties. He was a nice pleasant horse most of the time, but he had that nasty side too if you didn't watch yourself. In the paddock the other horses stayed on their side and didn't mess with him. In the crossties, when you touched him, he always had his ears pinned back.
A year later, I was racing at Flamboro, and by then had stopped working a day job. I had a cheap mare I really liked, named Mac Ms R Nukes. That day, for whatever reason she was extra good and won at 50-1. I was chatting with a guy I knew from around, Jason Klein, and mentioned I was looking for a place to train closer to home, as the constant travel was wearing me down. He mentioned he was stabled just about 10 seconds drive from where the Stouffville flea market was. There were quite a few empty stalls. I called the owner, and I took them.
One day, while there, my wife came to visit me and bring me lunch, which she did on the weekends sometimes. That day, she came, but we went to get the food instead. Some ice cream at the corner. While we were there, I got fries. I loved their fries. She had the ice cream. The restaurant was not in the actual flea market. While passing the market though, I noticed they had a banner that said Cam Fella was there that day. By then, he had been gelded and retired as a stud. They had him in a makeshift stall they put there. He was eating his hay when I arrived. At that point, I had been training a long time and had a lot of experience with handling horses. I wasn't a novice fan looking to pet him. I just got up close to him, which I had to to see him. He was eating the hay, his back to me, and in a split second, he turned, wheeled would be more accurate, lunged at me, snapped his teeth and bit me. Why he chose to do that, I don't know. But he did. I lept back, but he clipped the top of my hand and left a small bite mark. It didn't hurt, but it was certainly a memorable scar to have for a month until it healed.
He died a year or two later. That was my Cam Fella experience, start to finish, with a few stories in between that he played a part in.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Even if I wanted to be

In my high school yearbook, everyone wrote some little blurb to go along with their picture. To me, much of what most wrote was obvious and juvenile. I get that we were only 17 or 18 and its hard to expect Shakespeare from teenagers. I was never your average teenager in that respect. 
Anyway, I got a lot of response from mine as you might expect, although that was not my intention. I was always different than others. I realized that when I was very young, and I rarely have tried to fight it. I have my moments when I do, but I always come back to the gist of the blurb I wrote, and the poem I wrote below. Here is what I wrote back then, in 1984, and I can say it only took 10 seconds thought to come up with it, because its how I've always felt. 

"I can only be me, who else can I be?"

The poem below is something I wrote this week, as I try to rekindle my creativity, for various beneficial personal reasons. Basically, its just an extension or continuation of what I wrote 35 years ago in my high school yearbook. 
-------------
Even if I wanted to be
----------------
I cant be the person people want me to be
Even if I wanted to be
Sometimes I think I want to be that person
Sometimes I don't know if I do

Sometimes I try
Every time I try
I fail
I know I cant be
Because its not me

I'm not capable of being that person
Its never going to be me
I'm only capable of being who I am
For better or worse

That is who I am
That is what I am
That is what I was meant to be
Even if that isn't good enough

I give what I've got
Its all I've got to give
Even if I wanted to be more
There is no more there to be

I can only be me  
I cant be more than that
So I've quit trying
To be more than I can be

Saturday, April 7, 2018

WEG Handicapping and Betting, Notes and Comments: April 7, 2018


RACE 1

1  POP I

was used hard to make the lead last week and he backed away sharply once headed. He wasn't that much better the week before. He won for Moreau first off the claim, then got sick. Perhaps he will just turn it around at a price. He is possible on that angle.

2 CLOUD NINE HANOVER

 found the right class, trip and field to finally win a race 2 back. He reverted back to his usual form last time, at this level, and until he shows me more, I expect him to continue to get beat unless he is lower than this, and maybe even at that level too.
 
3 BUZZ

jumped it off last time, which he has always been prone to do, but he was solid the time before, and even paraded great that night too. He drops back to that level here, and he is my top pick to turn it right back around.

4 P L JERICO


 received a bad drive by Fillion 2 back, as he let him get shuffled out the back door completely. Last time, he just put him on the front and wired them. He moves up slightly here, and that is enough to deter him, as he appears very class sensitive.

5 TOUCHDOWN AS

 never looked good last time and ran eventually. He has been going the wrong way for weeks, and I need to see a reversal to get back interested in his chances.

  6 ETRUSCAN HANOVER

 is what he is, and that is well known. Until I see him parade, I make no call on him. Because its race 1, I get to see him before I make any real bets. At least they are giving us that chance tonight. He is buyer beware.


7 SETANTA

 moves up off 2 solid 2nd's, but was bearing in badly, hard to steer in both of those late. It only gets tougher when you have to beat better when that is the case. No thanks.

RACE 2

1  THE REV

can leave plenty and the short field helps him greatly here, but he has trouble finishing it off. If he trips out and can hold the pocket to Nirvana all the way this time, he has a shot to take him near the end. A minor shot to do that.

2 TRACEUR HANOVER

moves back to Ben B, where he has been before I think. He is most potent with Moreau, and even at that, he has trouble at the top level. Bit player in my view that gets money tonight just by showing up. Another day maybe.
 

3 NIRVANA SEELSTER

left out and then went unchallenged to the half last time and there was no beating him. He could get that same edge here again, and its his race to win or lose. I cant go against him and I'd be inclined to single him. When he gets good, and around this time of the year especially, he can dominate. The shorter the field, the better for him.

4 AMERICAN VIRGIN


 is capable enough when he is right. He didn't look right to me last time and he made the break leaving. He will have to be seen, but at this time of the day, I think he is in tough taking down Nirvana or The Rev who is likely sitting on Nirvana's back all the way.

5 PHYSICALLYINCLINED

  didnt race for a long time, then came back from the Maratimes and came to life here, was sold, but now races sporadically, which is a concern competing with the top level at this track. I will play others.


RACE 3 

I will breeze over this race, as I don't really play cheap claimers anymore.


1  ROSE RUN SPEEDSTER

​has poor form, but he did draw post 1 and 2 in every start on the page at WEG, and that has been a bad place to be since New Years, resulting in a lot of bad starts for him. He does again, so he is up against it, but perhaps watch for another day.

2 THE POWER OF MANY

moves up off the claim, but this level has proven to be outside her comfort level to this point. She would have to be a lot better than she has been in her recent past.
 
3 XTATIC HANOVER

should be called erratic, not xtatic, as he seems to just pop off a big effort, then find a bunch of reasons to fail otherwise. That is the nature of this class anyway, so, he can get it done on a relative class drop if tonight is one of his good nights, as he had at Yonkers a month ago.

4 LEXUS ROCKY


has horrendous form and rarely looks good parading.  Hard to toss anything in a field like this, but he is the one I'd go to if I had to pick one.


5 MEGO MOSS

 raced badly off the claim and now has missed almost a month. Maybe he was sick. Maybe he just is raced out. He can get that way and need some rest. He is hard to figure race in, race out.

6 MAXIMUSCLE

Made a break leaving last time first off the claim, from the rail, and I can give him a pass on that. He too can be very erratic, but on his best day, he can pop off a monster mile and blow up the tote board as he did in his lone win in the last 2 years. Post 6 and McNair might work for him if he can get him to the gate and follow it out without a fight.

7 MEADOWBROOKCHARLIE

drops in class, but needs to. He has not been impressive for some time. His trainer, who was once the toast of WEG town, is now 2 for 69. Pass.

8 CLASS ME NICE


Draws outside, and that can cost one like him when he is willing to cave if the trip doesn't go his way. I would go elsewhere and play the "rat that lucks out wins this race and doesn't figure" angle.


RACE 4

1  REIKI

​Appeared to me last time to be test driven, taken to the back, with the knowledge the winner was a cinch, come late and tune him up for future tries. That try is here tonight. He keeps McNair, comes off a decent win two back off the claim, goes for Marfisi, who is winning at 50 percent, and he hooks a weak bunch in a 6 horse field. He looks like the one to me, and the price should be okay.

2 MAJOR LEGACY

To his credit, and his owners bank accounts, has won 2 of his last 4, making almost 12k in the process, while basically tripping out or outstaggering some pretty weak competition. These look no tougher, so 3 times a charm? I think not. Life doesn't work that way. I will go elsewhere.
3 PAULY WALLY

 Came late last time and got there in time, with a solid steer from McClure, and he meets no tougher here. He should win this, but he has been known to just bomb out from time to time. He won his way out of tough conditions by winning in a bunch, but now he has to fight it out week to week with others who have done the same. Player, but only one of many.

4 BUGGER BRUISER


 is 2 for 56 the last two seasons, with one of those wins last year at Georgian, the other at the bottom of the page taking down McDave. McDave..nuff said, and he came a weak back half to do it. He was a very nice 2yo, and has had flashes of being okay since, but lately, he looks like he is on the downside of his career. Others look better for the win, but he can effect the outcome with his gate speed here.

5 LATE NIGHT

Ships in from London but he has won here before. He has competition for control here, and if he blasts, even though its a short field, we could see a rodeo. That doesn't favor him when he needs to race at the B's to get his wins lately. Pass.


6 MACHAL JORDAN


gets significant class relief here, 3rd off the layoff, he is a noted drop and pop specialist, and he should handle these. Hamilton notes that he wasn't very interested last time, and that concerns me when a horse comes off a layoff and has the miles on the tires that he has over the years. He is possible, maybe even probable, but I can go against him with others. Must use, but certainly iffy on what I see.


RACE 5


1  SHADES OF BAY

​Moved up to face the toughest ones and held his own. He was sitting in but was not about to go gunning at his stablemate, so he hung back and came home with the pack for 5th, but raced solid. Before that he ran into the current buzz saw that nobody is beating at this track, and was 2nd best to him. This is a good intermediate level and field for him.

2 FANCOURT

Has certainly matured into a solid aged horse and he seems to come ready to compete hard every week. This is a fairly tough bunch, he isn't outclassed by them either and his overall speed matches up, but he will need the right trip to take them all down.
 
3 FINE DIAMOND

 Comes in off a solid 3rd in the top class and a win just below this level, yet he fits the condition as he completely missed a cheque in the 3 races before that. His 54.3 back half last time certainly makes him very dangerous with this bunch and he can leave enough to make it work for him.

4 IDEAL JET


has matured nicely into a solid upper end condition horse over the last year or so, with his last race one of the best for him in a long time. However, this is another level entirely and in this deeper field, he will have to beat more than just a dull Jins Shark and a bunch of others who would be 99-1 in this race. He can get a small piece if things go his way.

5 BLATANTLY BEST

​has missed more than a month, and while he drops and has 2 2nd place finishes at the level just above this, the sharpness he would need to take many of these down is not there in my view. I will watch him for a play next time.

6 COOL ROCK


Came from out of the clouds and blew up the tote board last time, on a night when that was the norm. He has found his legs lately, but again, he meets others who look a lot better than him at this stage of their respective careers. He is a victim of his own current success in that he has to tackle horses that are beyond his reach. Pass.

7 RESISTANCE FUTILE

Moves up off a 7th place finish a class below and meets some very legit class droppers with solid form. No shot.


8 MAJOR HILL


Failed last time and is one start away from a major class drop and easy score. I expect a no try effort tonight from him and just enough of a brush to set him up for next time.


RACE 6

1  AIR GLIDER

​Race well last time but couldn't take down Flying Isa and now bumps up the tag and meets some conditioned foes. He looks short on class and speed with a few of these, but he could be good for the bottom of the ticket if they don't perform and come back to him.

2 MEADOWBRANCH MEMO

Is a habitually slow starter who comes from well out of it and picks off whatever he can as they come back to the field and he can find a seam to do that. Just the type of longshot that wins races like this if the top faves bomb out, of which the likely ones in this race have a history of doing for a bunch of different reasons. The slight class drop in his last two have made him a shade more competitive, and he is also a horse that is best handled by someone who drives him steady. McClure sticks for time 3 now, and if things go right, meaning in this case that others go wrong,  he is a price option here.
 
3 HONOR ABOVE ALL

 Has decent leaving ability, but he relies on going to the B tracks to take them all the way, which he did last time. Back here, he seems to think the tote board is the finish line, and sadly, it isn't. He should be a very good earner all summer racing a lot at the B tracks when they start opening up and his tactical early speed gives him a bigger edge there than it does here.

4 GUSCREST


Came off the shelf, had a prep at Flamboro, then gunned to the top and coasted to the half, and in a soft and gapped out field, just had to go even from there to wire them up at a big price. He could be one of those that finally finds himself as he ages, so he isn't a toss, but the way he won last time and who he did it against makes me think it was more smoke and mirrors than reality. He will have to prove it to me one more time before I'm A Believer.

5 HLDONTGHTTOYURDRMS

Was a pretty nice horse as a colt, and even won the Preferred a time or two when younger. That was then. He has lost a step or three since then, and while he won at the bottom 3 back, he hasn't gotten it done at this level in 2 races since. I could see Roy blasting out with him here, and if so, whoever is on his back is viable if they get out in time. Who that is I'm not sure, but that is probably the winning trip. And that isn't him.

6 MARQUIS VOLO


Has known issues and talent, and in that he sometimes can overcome those while he lasts, which is pretty short most seasons, he can't be relied on week to week to perform. Post 6 can help him here if he can get away mid pack and not way back, and stay on stride. If so, he can trip out and beat this suspect bunch.

7 JUSTASMALLTOWNGIRL

 Doesn't win often and has a trainer who is 0 for 25 this year. She would have to massively turn her form around. No thanks. Too many options in here to take a flyer on her.


8 MANOFMANYIMAGES


Moves up without winning, but that doesn't concern me, as many of these are short on current class. He gets post 8, but this is likely to be a tight pack and he can stay in range. He has been a beaten fave 3 in a row, and if he was sent off a 4th time at that rating, I would play against him. But, if he goes off 7-2 or above, he is possible with the nature of this field and how the race might play into the hands of a guy like J Mac, who wins these types of races on the line. 

 RACE 7 

1  WESTERN PHIL

​Ships to Moreau from Allard, from which he was the same horse we saw here last year---he is inconsistent and he has trouble winning most nights. Unless Moreau finds some key to him, I'd say he is heading for the 20k conditioned claimer in the near future. Pass for me.

2 EAST END

Got it done at the bottom class but reverted to his hanging ways back in this class 5 days later. At this point, I think he is in deep when he doesn't have the class relief, and he is even marginal in with those. Pass for me until I see him tagged and find a level that works for him.
 
3 REGAL SON

  Drops in class and picks up J Mac.  He is just one of those horses who is always viable and always beatable, at both classes lower and higher than this. He has missed a month now and was pacing in 52 every week, but only taking small shares because of the company he was keeping. I'd have to think staying out of the box when he was eligible to this class means he was sick on some level. When you add up all the negatives..possibly sick, short, low percentage winner, minor class drop off a poor line, and possibly still a shorter price with the fast lines on the page, I can take a shot against him and toss him out of the pick 4's entirely.

4 BALI


Ships in from Rideau with good form and he is a 35 time winner who knows how to make money moving around the condition classes. Perfect type who could upset this bunch who also do a fair amount of that. In terms of pros and cons....he picks up Fillion, gets a good leaving post, and comes in off a fast win at a Preferred level. On the con side, he won off a pocket trip, gave it up before that when he cut it, and probably isn't much faster at the big track than he is on a half or a 5/8ths. If you are looking for an upsetter, he isn't impossible. Thats the best non recommendation I can give out.

5 FLAHERTY

Has always shown high ability, but he doesn't last long and he goes very lame. Off his latest layoff, when he looked very bad last summer, he was given a prep race by Budd before coming back here at a low level. If he does poorly tonight, he will get to try the softest class at London or Flamboro next time. I'd think that is the plan tonight. I can't see him in this competitive for this class field off his current suspect form. Trevor passed him up for a MacIntosh horse even though he has done very well with both Budd and this horse in the past.

6 SINGLE WHITE SOCK


Left last time but stayed in then shuffled out a bit, came back on and nabbed 3rd in a very gapped out field. He earns just enough each week picking up small slices that he can't drop to the bottom, where he would be much more dangerous. His 2 for 53 record speaks for itself in terms of where he is likely to finish tonight. Pass.


7 NASCAR SEELSTER

 Has been off since the fall, when he was knocking heads with Gold colts and some grand circuit types. Upon his return, he gets lasix, gets a new driver in Henry, who also qualified him twice and is doing some steady driving for MacIntosh and gets in this class because they added a nw5 life to the condition. He never looks sound parading, and sometimes in the race, but he seems to go with it. This is such a weak and iffy bunch, he is in with a shot. MacIntosh brings them off the shelf ready, so there is that. Tough call on him as he is tough to figure at this stage.

8 ROCKIN WIZARD


Drops in class off two decent efforts a class above, and he looks like the one, although he comes with the baggage that he doesn't always produce when you think he will, like many that inhabit this class. The equalizer in this case is post 8. I'd like his chances to get home first a lot better if he had the 5 or 6 hole and could get out near the lead without being used hard to do it. That makes me think something in here takes him down whichever way they decide to race him. 

9 RED JOHN

Was solid last week racing from off the pace, and pretty much resigned to racing for 2nd money, which he did and got. Post 9 gravely hurts his chances, and I'll pass on him with that crutch in place.

RACE 8

1  SOUTHWIND MASIMO


​Was claimed Monday and comes right back here on Saturday, off a weak effort and in for a higher tag if he was tagged. He is hard to like, and Puddy and Carmen basically do the same thing, although Carmen tends to do it slightly better overall. Not enough for me to play him, but he is not impossible. Carmen does very well with Bettors Delight and Art Major horses, East End and Major Hill being two recent ones he claimed and stepped up, but his slow starts overall, added to the likelihood the rail makes it an even deeper deficit at the half, I can't see him bridging that gap late at this level. Lets see how he looks on the barn change.

2 ATOMIC MILLION AM

Was off stride before the start last time, although that was not charted. He made a decent recovery, grinded it out and got it done, but he was life and death to hold off Red John, who was daylighted last week by the chalk in this race. He also moves up significantly here. He appears to have lost a couple of steps from the top form he showed at this track a couple of years ago. He is likely a class mover and dropper if he hangs around and doesnlt head back to Quebec for the summer. Pass for me.
 
3 MR WIGGLE PANTS

  Was laid off after rising up the ranks last fall and doing very well. He probably isnt a Preferred horse at this track, and he would have to face those if he kept racing. He returned a step above this level, did little but took his time down marginally. He picks up McNair here for his loyal owner, but he would have to do more. He has a decent shot if he does. If the price was right, I would think he is worth a flyer. I'd use him in the multi race plays as a viable price spicer.

4 ROCK THIS WAY


Comes in off a win, in which he was the longest shot on the board, the track was terrible, and he seemed to benefit from others not liking it. He gets back in to basically the same level, and at times, he shows big talent. At this point, he is clearly a stalker and closer, and he shows 27 and change on every line at the end on the page. My thing with him is he doesn't usually show up week to week. I will pass on him for that reason. These are not as soft as some he beats.

5 SHADOW MARGEAUX

Left well last time, sat a loose pocket on the sharp front ender, who daylighted them and hung in well, but he did try to close the gap in the 3rd quarter and tired as a result. He does his best work when he leaves and then does very little during the middle half of the race but maintain his position. He did move up to this level last time, but he has been good enough at this level before and the chalk here is moving up also this time. He has good upset potential if you aren't sold on the 6.

6 MODERN REFLECTION


Had just about everything in his favor last time. A class drop, a very soft bunch to contend with, a switch to Moreau and picking up Roy. He didn't waste any of that as he let the dust settle then moved to the top and said goodbye to the field on the turn, coasting home. These are tougher and wont lie down like most of those did. I see enough contenders in here to think something will take him down if he is challenged earlier and forced to pace on late under pressure. I will go against him completely in anything and go deeper with some other viable chancy type.

7 E L WILD SPIRIT


 Picked off a soft claiming bunch last time, first time off the claim. That was a solid effort, but most of these wouldn't even be in for that tag.  The suicide fractions he closed into that race favored him and he isn't likely to get that edge here. Bit player in my view.

8 HALF A BILLION


Comes in with pretty good form and gets to drop a level. He loses Trevor, but picks up JJ, who has done well with him before, and at big odds. This horse knows how to win and his trainer has been hot of late. He is one I would use as a legit long shot with a chance if they mix it up and he is sitting on live cover with a chance to tip late enough to time the wire.

RACE 9

1  KAZIMOTO


​Has nice tactical leaving speed and he seems to show up every week and race. He has been managed well by his owner/breeder, slash sometimes trainer. As such, he has banked 75k mostly in overnights and he is still early into his 4yo year. In 5 tries with these since winning, he has been hanging around but not able to beat them all. He draws inside again and I would think gets the same trip he has been. He beat all but the winner last time, who he meets again. He has a reasonable shot if things go his way. I will look to others for the win position, as I wouldn't take less than 7-2 on this one, and that is probably what he is going to bring. If I was going to roll the dice against anything in the late pick 4, he is the one I would leave off and take a shot with something else. He finds ways to get beat, like being shuffled back last time, because he needs that soft trip to finish his best. McNair could have pulled him first up, but he chose not to. That gets horses beat.
2 SWELLENDAM

Seems to be a bit of a late bloomer, as some Bettors Delight's can be. He did win his share last year although he didn't race much, and then stalled this year before being moved from Adams to Galucci, which has proven a very successful move in the past for many of that stables stock. He improved sharply in the first try and only was beaten by a decent horse in Humboldt, and last time drew post 10 and went the trip you expect with most of those. Trevor had a fantastic night last night, and if he can get him the trip he got Musical Spell and find a seam late, he is possible at a decent price. Trevor and Galucci have an ROI of $3.41 together. So so shot type.
 
3 LYONS WILLIAM

  Is the prototype Big Jim type. He has ability, he can leave and go a long way on the front, but sometimes he shows up, sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he trips out, sometimes he doesn't and caves in. Lance claimed him and improved him 2nd out and has now protected him back in condition races. JJ made the backstretch move to the top last time, but he caved late. If he could leave and somehow get someone to cover him up, he could win this like he did with that type of trip on March 19th. This is not a deep group but mediocre like him. He is 6 for 23 over the last two years. That tells you that when the trip favors him, he wins his share and doesn't get beat on the line, like many in here. Another shot type.

4 SAULSBROOK LANNY
 

Looked like a pretty nice prospect last year, but he doesnt look nearly as desirable now that the Brealey potion is not in the cabinet on race day. He was dead last all the way last time with most of these as his competition. I have to see something positive from him with these connections now calling the shots to consider him anything more than a rat who was juiced up. Watching for a sign of that.

5 ROSE RUN SLIDER

Took a decent mark at 2 and looked like he might be an okay bottom end stakes horse. But he has done little since and was moved to the new connections in March. Last time, away last, he moved wide with some apparent pace but started to put in steps many times on the turn and coming out of it. He finished even. He has some ability if he can be driven start to finish. I think he might pop for a big price if all can be rectified, but as he was so noticably steppy last time, I want to see him get around clean and be driven to win. I will pass this time. 

6 GILLYS BOY

Was babied off the gate by Roy last time, and that is something he has needed from time to time. He picked up decent cover and that carried him into a good position mid stretch, but he hung and didn't look right. With Roy winning at the rate he does, and the lines this horse shows on the page, I will take my shot against his likely short price. He appears to be tailing off to me, and he isn't really a durable type as it is.

7 OLLIESTRIKESFAME


Has always impressed me as a horse with a lot of upside if he could get his head together. J Mac did an excellent job getting him to that point, as well as his previous trainer, and last time he put it all together as he tipped off cover and blew by them all. He goes to a new trainer tonight but stays with the same ownership. He has won 2 of his last 3 in this class, and he is the likely 6-5 favorite. I like him as an include in the multi race things, but I would go elsewhere for the straight winner.


RACE 10

1  CHARMBO CHROME



​Won his 2nd last race at the bottom level condition, beating a decent one in Adversity, who came back to win last week.  Last time, he hit a terrible wet track and ​
it ended up being a field of six, which was actually 4 when the gate sped away and two of them ran. He sat a loose 4th all the way, not under much urging, but was asked on the turn and looked to not be grabbing the track, as the pace also picked up. He was home 4th. This is not a soft bunch for this class, and while I can give him a pass on the last race because of the track and watch him for a better spot, I can't see him for the win tonight.

2 SOUTHWIND TESLA

Has been aimed at the top shelf types since she was a yearling, but while she showed some ability to go with them at times, she earned a decent buck mostly taking smaller shares. She was also prone to running, and she was stopped with last fall. She qualified back okay and then came right off the shelf and won her first start, but, that was against I Jasmin, who rarely wins, and Give Angel Credit, who isn't much stock at all. The back half was only a minute, and she only had to show up with her inherent ability to pass that bunch. These are far tougher as she moves up. Her slower starts will start to cost her when she reaches this level, as they wont be as easy to pass. Wait and see what she shows me. Pass for tonight.
 
3 KAMERAN HANOVER


  Doesn't race much, as his breeding would suggest he has a lot of talent, but the lameness issues to go with it. Last time, he was gapping from the get go, and made little advance the entire way. It was like CC sensed he wasn't good to go this night and just got him around. In the process, he held up Mighty Nicky, who stayed on his back too long, hoping he would go forward and carry him. On his good days, he can take this bunch, and we cant ignore that Henriksen is a noted trotting master and can fix whatever it was last time. He is one I'd have to use in the multi race wagers, but he is hard to play for the straight win off that poor showing last time. He is 15 for 19 to hit the ticket the last two years, so he generally doesn't put in many bad ones like last time. If you have room, use him.

4 WESMONT


 
Seems to have hit a class wall at this level. Last time, he left out well, was sitting a good 3rd, but gapping and that gap got wider the farther they went. He was simply out trotted. It could be any number of things, but either he is tired from racing steady week after week since last summer, he is just at a level he cant go with, or his late start to his racing career has forced him to meet a higher level earlier than he is ready for. Either way, to me, it adds up to minor shares at this level as long as there are decent contenders, which there are this time.

5 ACHILLE DUHARAS


Looks very tough with this bunch. Something went wrong going to the gate on March 17th, but other than that, he has been solid and impressive. They aimed him at the Hambo at 3 and paid Takter to get him there, and he didn't pan out. But obviously, you don't do that unless you think you have some pretty good stock. He shows winning on March 10th from the rail in 53 and change, beating a tough talented customer in Vero Amore Bi, and other solid ones. Last time he was geared down late and even an all out Mighty Nicky was racing for 2nd. I don't think we have seen his best yet this spring, and he is still heading for top form. I'm not sold on singling him, but he is certainly an overweight in the multi wagers for me, even with him likely going off 3-5.

6 FRENCH BASTILLE



​ Has always been useful but mediocre, and he continues to be that, with a bit more zip since Henriksen got him gaited right and Moreau got him finishing better. Now he finds himself at a level where that will get him small shares. Last week he caught a short field and it got shorter at the gate, and he simply sat on the front with no challengers and held 2nd while he was wildly outclassed by the winner who toyed with them. It was an okay effort, which is what you get from him most nights. I'd like to see him tagged before I go back to him. Pass for me.

7 MIGHTY NICKY



Has proven to be a solid claim for Galucci, and now that he is reunited with J Mac, he is finding his groove. As mentioned above, last time he sat back, as he is usually doing, but he got gapped out by one who was not keeping up. He went around that one, went first up and went after the winner, whom he meets again, but was no match and probably wouldn't have beat him with the trip he had to go to get to that point even if he has the talent to take that one down. We wont know until he gets a better trip and takes a fair shot at him. He has a minor shot if he can find a better and earlier flow. Or maybe he is content to be 2nd until the bearcat in the making wins out and/or moves on and up the ladder. The addition of lasix in the new barn has made him an even more potent closer than he was before, and he was already that anyway. They have upped the lifetime earnings condition to let him in this class, and being short of horses, I'd expect them to do that again next time until he shows he is 2-5 the best. Tough call. I'd be inclined to single the chalk and roll the dice he doesn't pick him off.

8 MYSTICAL MISSION


 Was struggling with Baillargeon, but came alive and had a very nice run with A Mac. He has tailed off sharply as of late with the switch to McGinnis as head trainer, and whatever the reason, he looks well over his head with these to make the ticket. He will need to be tagged or drop back to the bottom condition again to get me looking at him as a contender.


9 ONE OF THE FEW





Took Oceanview Deb from a good post and a pocket trip, but since moving up has not been as potent and has missed 3 weeks. He did have some interference last time, and he has showed some flashes of talent along the way. With the bad post tonight, I will watch to see where he is at if he draws better next time and avoids the logical top 2 in here.